Sunday, June 22, 2008

Odds and ends

I have really enjoyed writing my cache of jewels story, but I am not entirely happy with the ending.

The story began as a strange collection of little odds and ends which came to mind. When they seemed to make sense together I decided to challenge myself by announcing the series. I had the story already written in its entirety (I'm not so reckless as to announce something on my blog and then not be able to deliver), but I found that the time delay allowed me to rethink some ideas, and edit a little. The comments I received also made me realise that I had a responsibility to my readers, something which I have never felt before. Scary. Moving right along....the ending of the tale soon loomed closer and closer and I became more and more agitated. Happy? Sad? Ambiguous? Realistic? Fantasy? Why was I doing this again? etc etc etc.

So, yes, I was not entirely satisfied with the ending. But I decided to leave it at that. My family was complaining about what had become an obsession. "Move on Eleanor!" they said.

But last night I saw the most spectacular, moving production of Hamlet, and it made me rethink the way I had been looking at endings. I had censored myself by not publishing my "bitter end". I had thought it was too distressing and ...ummm...realistic. But then I saw Hamlet dueling with Laertes and I thought that a duel to the death is a PERFECT ending for a tragedy. Oh.

So here is my short and bitter end. For good measure, I am also putting in the very, very first ending I originally wrote for the piece.

I would love to hear what you all think about them. I hope I don't come off sounding really egotistical about my writing. Believe me, I can't believe I'm putting my stuff out there and feel sick even writing this now. But, you know what, I figure that if you couldn't stand the story then...well....you're SURELY not reading this post now!!!

THE BITTER END

They both looked at Baby with horror. “Go back into the house this minute Baby,” he shouted, pointing a shaking, angry finger towards the opposite end of the garden. But Baby didn’t move, he just tilted his head up and looked at him and said in a scared little voice, “But you’re stepping on the jewels Papa.”

She felt her heart miss a beat, and her face flush, but Papa hadn’t heard anything, so he only repeated, “Go back into the house young man! Right this minute!” and then Grandma could be seen running down the lawn. She swept Baby up in her arms and raced back towards the house with him, just as he began to scream and cry and kick his legs and flail his arms. She raced back into the house with him in her arms, and even after she slammed the back door, and took him to his room, and sat on the rocking chair with him, and covered him with a blanket, even after all of that, they could still hear his terrifying howls.

Yet they remained there, the two of them, at the garden’s end, beside the lemon tree, above the cache of jewels. Duelling. To the death.

To the bitter, bitter end.


THE ENDING WHICH DOES NOT FEATURE GRANDMA (well...maybe just a tiny bit)

There was another person now waiting at the front gate, and another rucksack. “Papa’s here, Papa’s here,” rang the chorus as the three children once again ran down the front path and into another pair of loving arms.These arms were wider and longer and stronger than hers, and as she ran towards him, breathless with anticipation, she was very thankful for that. It was an embrace of two, surrounded by three, and watched over by one.

Now,what happened on that day, in that little house, was a lot of laughter, and tears. It was a lot of good food, family conversation, warm beds, and all very very clean and very very comfortable and a soft place to fall. It was what families do every day really, but for this family it was special, and it lasted all day and well into the evening. As night fell, dinner was eaten, children were bathed and dressed in pyjamas, stories were read, and then it was time to be tucked into bed. Mama would tuck in the big children, and Papa would tuck in Baby.

Papa sat on the edge of Baby’s big-boy bed, smoothing down the sheet and the blanket. Then he took Tiny Blanket and slipped it in next to Baby’s cheek, just the way he like it, and then he rested his hand on Baby’s curly-mop head and he said “Good night Big Boy Baby.” Baby smiled up at Papa and blinked a few times, and thought quite a bit, looking a little bit worried, and then he whispered in the tiniest little voice, “Papa, do you want to know a secret?” Papa smiled and feigned excitement, shaking his shoulders and making his eyes go big and scary and saying, “Ooooo....a secret.....I looooove secrets....and you know, I never ever tell!” Baby furrowed his brow and thought some more and said, “Ok, I’ll tell you, but you have to promise not to tell Mama, ok?” “Ok,” answered Papa, leaning forward and moving his ear close to Baby’s ruby-red lips. “Well,” whispered Baby, “we have a jewel treasure buried in our backyard.” “Really now?” said Papa. “Yes, Papa,” said Baby, nodding seriously, “and you know what I think...if you’re a really good Papa...really....really...good....Mama may show it to you one day.” And with that, Baby turned over and closed his eyes and went to sleep.

And Papa? Well, Papa kept sitting on the side of that bed for a very, very long time. And then he stood up, and shut the light, and closed the door, and went looking for Mama.

9 comments:

kmkat said...

The bitter ending... ROCKS!

Yeah, that Shakespeare. He knew how to write 'em. (So do you.)

laura said...

All hail Eleanor and the bitter ending!
Thank you for the lovely tale and this new ending.

Please keep writing even if you choose not to share it with us. You really do have a gift and your stories are magical.

Have a wonderful weekend! : )

laura said...

PS
Interestingly enough, if I was pressed to pick - the 2nd of these endings (the original) is my favourite. The idea of Papa sitting still on the bed contemplating what he just heard and then going to find Mama.. ah... it sent chills down my spine!

bluemountainsmary said...

I'm with Laura - I like the contrast of the happy family day and then left wondering what Papa may have gone off to discuss with Mama!!

blackbird said...

I like the second ending best too!

Badger said...

Second ending! Second ending!

eurolush said...

Hullo Dear Eleanor,

Believe it or not, I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth...and I have been keeping up with your short story installments, whenever I get the chance to jump on the computer here in Atlanta.

I wanted you to know that I'm so impressed with your writing (as always) and the effort you've put into this short story...I know it took courage to send it out into the big world.

I really like the second ending as well...the thought of Papa looking for Mama...and all that implies.

Keep writing!

Tuli said...

They're all wonderful endings and I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

But I'm leaning towards the second one you posted (the story's original).

(My word verification is hdddbod. I have eye strain now.)

Esti said...

I like both endings, but if I had to pick, the second one would be my choice.
I've enjoyed your story a lot. Thanks for writting it :)